Review: British Airways First Class Airbus A380 (LHR-ORD)

Review: British Airways First Class Airbus A380 (LHR-ORD)

More From This Trip
FROM: LHR
TO: ORD
CABIN: First
DATE: December 2023
REVIEW RATING:
SEAT MAP: A380-800
BEN SAYS: British Airways' A380 first class offers a large and comfortable but outdated cabin, with tasty food and drinks, good amenities, free Wi-Fi, and well intentioned service.
56
The Long Way to Abu Dhabi
More from this series:

For the last portion of my review trip, I flew British Airways’ Airbus A380 first class on the eight hour flight from London to Chicago. While I recently flew British Airways’ “new” 777 first class, I was looking forward to checking out the carrier’s A380 first class for the first time in roughly a decade.

My British Airways A380 first class flight can best be described as pleasant — the cabin was spacious, the crew was friendly, the food and drinks were tasty, I appreciated the free Wi-Fi, and the amenities were good as well.

That being said, this doesn’t rank among the world’s best first class products. While the service was friendly, it wasn’t at all customized, and felt more like what you’d expect in business class than first class. Furthermore, the A380 cabin is definitely in need of a refresh, with the outdated entertainment system most needing replacing.

As far as I’m concerned, this British Airways first class flight was good enough, which is all it needs to be for British Airways. As I always say, the airport dominates slot controlled Heathrow, so British Airways doesn’t really have to compete with product, at least for those traveling to or from London. Let’s get into the review…

How I booked my British Airways first class ticket

I booked my entire journey from Jeddah to Chicago (via Abu Dhabi and London) as a single award using American AAdvantage miles. Specifically, I booked the following for 115,000 American AAdvantage miles plus $323.73 in taxes and fees (with the Jeddah to Abu Dhabi segment in business class, and the Abu Dhabi to London to Chicago segments in first class):

12/04 EY330 Jeddah to Abu Dhabi departing 2:35AM arriving 6:20AM
12/04 EY17 Abu Dhabi to London departing 2:05PM arriving 6:10PM
12/05 BA295 London to Chicago departing 11:00AM arriving 1:55PM

That’s a pretty great use of American AAdvantage miles, if you ask me. Furthermore, while there were carrier imposed surcharges on this award, they were much cheaper than if you were exclusively booking an award on British Airways across the Atlantic.

British Airways first class lounge & boarding

In previous installments I reviewed the British Airways Concorde Room and British Airways Galleries First Lounge. The lounges are pleasant places to pass some time, but definitely don’t rank among the best first class lounges and best oneworld Emerald lounges out there (respectively).

My flight was scheduled to depart from Heathrow Terminal 5C, which required taking the train two stops to the furthest pier. Specifically, my flight was departing from gate C65.

British Airways departure gate London Heathrow

I loved getting a good view of the jet from the gate — while this plane could use a wash, I do like British Airways’ livery, and find it to be timeless.

British Airways Airbus A380 London Heathrow
British Airways Airbus A380 London Heathrow

While my boarding pass indicated that boarding was scheduled to start at 10AM, in reality the crew only showed up at 10:05AM, and boarding started at 10:20AM. First class was invited to board first, so I managed to be the first onboard.

British Airways A380 first class cabin & seats

While most airlines have premium cabins on the upper deck of the Airbus A380, British Airways first class is at the front of the lower deck, so I took the jet bridge to the first door on the lower deck. As I arrived at the door, the crew was caught off guard that boarding had started, and asked passengers to wait in the jet bridge for about five minutes.

One interesting thing is that I heard the cabin manager announce to the crew what the load was. This was an empty flight — there were seven seats occupied in first class (out of 14), 31 seats occupied in business class (out of 97), 36 seats occupied in premium economy (out or 55), and 99 seats occupied in economy (out of 303).

Once onboard, I turned right into the 14-seat first class cabin, which is spread across four rows, in a 1-2-1 configuration. There are three rows of center seats and four rows of window seats. While there’s in theory something nice about having first class on the upper deck, you definitely notice how much wider the cabin is on the lower deck, so that has merit as well.

British Airways A380 first class cabin
British Airways A380 first class cabin

Those traveling with someone may prefer to select a pair of center seats, so that you can actually enjoy the flight together. There’s a privacy partition between the center seats, but that can be raised or lowered at will, depending on whether you’re traveling with the person seated next to you.

British Airways first class seats A380

Meanwhile if you’re traveling alone, you’ll definitely want to select one of the window seats if possible.

British Airways first class seats A380

I assigned myself seat 3A, the seat on the left side in the third row. While there are no doors, British Airways’ A380 first class seat feels spacious and private, and the space allocated to each passenger is more than enough.

British Airways first class seat A380
British Airways first class seat A380
British Airways first class seat A380

To the side of each seat is a large tray on which you can place things during the flight. This is also where the huge tray table extends from, which can easily be used for two people to dine face-to-face.

British Airways first class seat side table A380
British Airways first class seat tray table A380

The footrest even doubles as an ottoman and has a seatbelt, so that you can dine with a travel companion, if you’d like.

British Airways first class seat ottoman A380

To the side of the seat is an enclosed compartment. This can be used for storage, but also inside there is the (ancient) entertainment controller, two USB-A outlets, and one AC power outlet. I find the location of the power outlets to be awkward, since it can be hard to see down there, given how dark that cubby is.

British Airways first class seat storage A380
British Airways first class seat outlets A380

Immediately in front of that is a panel where you can control the window and seat functions. In addition to being able to customize specific aspects of the seat, there’s a general knob you can turn to bring your seat fully upright, recline it fully, or anything in between.

British Airways first class seat controls A380

I also like how British Airways has window shades in first class that you can raise or lower with the push of a button.

British Airways first class seat windows A380

At the outside of the suite is a small closet, where you can hang clothes or store other small items.

British Airways first class seat closet A380

The British Airways A380 overhead console has reading lights, though unfortunately there are no individual air nozzles.

British Airways A380 overhead console

As mentioned above, there are no doors in first class. However, the seats are staggered, and combined with the privacy partitions to the side of the seat, you could barely even see the person seated across from you.

British Airways first class seat privacy A380

Where does British Airways’ A380 first class hard product rank? I’d say it’s quite good. It’s not as good as the carrier’s “new” 777 first class, but to compare it to other carriers in Europe, it’s certainly better than Lufthansa’s first class on any aircraft.

British Airways first class amenities

British Airways has an impressive number of amenities in first class. For one, there were two pillows and a blanket waiting at each seat upon boarding. There’s additional bedding when you request turndown service, but those are just the basics for getting comfortable while relaxing.

British Airways first class pillow & blanket

There were also a pair of okay noise canceling headphones — they’re definitely not the best out there, but also not the worst.

British Airways first class headphones

Moments after settling in, I was presented with pajamas. I’m a fan of British Airways’ pajamas, though I definitely like the version from back in the day better (which had BA first class branding on the front).

British Airways first class pajamas

I was also given some comfortable slippers.

British Airways first class slippers

Then there was a very well stocked amenity kit, which contained eyeshades, socks, earplugs, a dental kit, a pen, a comb, and a variety of products from Elemis, including lip balm, deodorant, shaving gel, lotion, and an exfoliant.

British Airways first class amenity kit

The friendly flight attendant taking care of me introduced herself shortly after boarding, as did the cabin manager. I was offered a pre-departure drink, and just asked for a sparkling water.

British Airways first class pre-departure drink

With everyone around me ordering champagne, the flight attendant checked in with me again later to make sure I didn’t want any champagne, and I gave in to the temptation, and figured I might as well have a glass. British Airways serves Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle in first class, which is very nice. I also appreciate the consistency, as this has been the carrier’s champagne for a long time (while other airlines change their selection frequently). I was even offered some warm nuts to go along with it.

British Airways first class pre-departure drink

Later on during boarding, I was offered a warm towel.

British Airways first class warm towel

I was also presented with the menu and drink list for the flight.

British Airways first class menu

There’s no shortage of amenities in British Airways first class, that’s for sure!

British Airways A380 first class entertainment & Wi-Fi

While I think the seat is otherwise good, British Airways’ A380 first class entertainment system is garbage. The monitor folded out from the front of the seat, and was outrageously wobbly. Even just at cruising altitude in smooth conditions, the screen would vibrate. On top of that, the screen wasn’t very big, wasn’t very high definition, and also wasn’t very responsive.

As far as entertainment options go, the system contained movies, TV shows, music, and games.

British Airways first class entertainment system A380

While the selection wasn’t as extensive as what you’d find on airlines like Emirates, it wasn’t the worst either, and had a fair number of options.

British Airways first class entertainment system A380
British Airways first class entertainment system A380

British Airways also has a pretty basic map feature, which I enjoyed keeping an eye on during the flight. Unfortunately British Airways elected not to offer tail cameras on the A380, which is something I always enjoy.

British Airways first class entertainment system A380

British Airways also offers Wi-Fi on its Airbus A380.

British Airways Wi-Fi system A380
British Airways Wi-Fi system A380

Wi-Fi is free in first class, and you can easily log in using your seat number and last name.

British Airways Wi-Fi system A380

The pricing is otherwise fair, with plans based on how long you’d like to use Wi-Fi, with no data caps. Specifically:

  • You can get a one hour messaging pass for £2.99, or a full flight messaging pass for £4.99
  • You can get a one hour streaming pass for £4.99, a four hour streaming pass for £11.99, and a full flight streaming pass for £17.99
British Airways Wi-Fi system A380
British Airways Wi-Fi system A380

That pricing is reasonable, and I found the speeds to be good all the way across the Atlantic.

British Airways A380 departure from London

At 10:50AM it was announced that boarding was complete, 10 minutes ahead of our scheduled departure time. Then at 10:55AM, the captain made his welcome aboard announcement, informing us of our flight time of eight hours, and our cruising altitude of 36,000 feet. He stated that we were just waiting on some last minute cargo to be loaded, and should be underway soon.

20 minutes later, the captain was back on the PA to announce that loading of the cargo was complete, but we were waiting on ground staff to push us back. Then another 20 minutes later, he announced that the ground crew were struggling to close the panel that connects to power on the ground, and an engineer was there to work on that.

Fortunately that was resolved pretty quickly, and at 11:45AM we began our pushback, about 45 minutes behind schedule. Ultimately we lucked out, because British Airways’ A380s seem to be seriously struggling with reliability, with many flights being significantly delayed.

The safety video was screened as we pushed back, and it was my first time seeing this particular version on a plane (also featuring the new crew uniforms, as you can see).

Flight attendants have to be stationed in the aisles during the video to point out where the exits are. Funny enough, there were four flight attendants stationed in first class for this, presumably due to the height of the walls. So with only seven first class passengers, it was a better than 2:1 crew safety briefing to passenger ratio. Hah.

At 11:50AM we began our taxi. We made it to runway 27L within about 10 minutes, and then just had a short wait for takeoff.

Taxiing London Heathrow
Taxiing London Heathrow

We were cleared for takeoff at 12:05PM, and we had a powerful takeoff roll, presumably due to how empty the aircraft was. Our climb out was smooth, and the seatbelt sign was turned off about 10 minutes after takeoff.

British Airways first class lunch service

On this flight, lunch was served after takeoff, and then afternoon tea was served before landing. While you have the flexibility to dine when you’d like, I decided to eat shortly after takeoff. You can find the British Airways first class menu below.

British Airways first class menu
British Airways first class menu
British Airways first class menu

You can find the British Airways first class drink list below.

British Airways first class drink list
British Airways first class drink list
British Airways first class drink list
British Airways first class drink list

Meal and drink orders had been taken on the ground, and the first round of drinks along with canapés were served about 20 minutes after takeoff. Rather than continuing with the Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle, I instead decided to mix things up and order the carrier’s featured English sparkling wine, which was the 2018 Hattingley Valley Blanc de Noirs Brut. It was decent, but I preferred the champagne.

The canapés that accompanied the drink included bresaola with melon, smoked salmon with cream cheese and cucumber, and red pepper roulade and goat cheese.

British Airways first class lunch — champagne and canapés

After the first round of drinks, there was a long pause in the service. On a daytime flight I don’t mind a leisurely service flow. However, it’s nice when you get the sense that it’s intentionally at a slow pace, which is to say that drink refills are offered, and the crew checks on you. However, in this case the crew seemed to disappear for nearly an hour, as the next course was served just under an hour later, 75 minutes after takeoff.

I ordered the carrot and ginger soup with a ricotta croquette, which was flavorful. It was also beautifully presented, with the flight attendant pouring the soup into the bowl at my seat. While I was offered a selection of bread, the bread really wasn’t worth the calories or carbs, as it tasted like cardboard.

British Airways first class lunch — soup

Next up, I ordered the smoked salmon with wasabi dressing and avocado, which was served an additional 25 minutes later. Can I take a moment to acknowledge how nice this presentation was compared to the salmon appetizer I had on my last British Airways first class flight?

British Airways first class lunch — appetizer

While I almost always order fish, I decided to mix it up this time, and ordered the pasta dish, which was ricotta ravioli with kale, asparagus, and peas.

British Airways first class lunch — main course

Lastly for dessert, I had the chocolate yule log, which was decadent.

British Airways first class lunch — dessert

On balance, this was a very good meal. I appreciate just how large and flexible British Airways’ first class menu is. On this flight, the flavor of everything was good, as was the presentation. Now, admittedly British Airways doesn’t have the “frills” of first class meals on some other airlines — for example, unlike on Emirates, there’s no unlimited caviar (or caviar at all, for that matter). Still, I thought the food was very good.

British Airways A380 first class lavatories

Many airlines have very impressive first class lavatories on the Airbus A380. British Airways isn’t one of those airlines. Presumably that comes down to first class being on the lower deck, so there’s less space for amenities like this.

British Airways has two first class lavatories in the A380 first class cabin, with one on each side of the staircase.

British Airways A380 forward galley

For international first class, these are seriously unimpressive lavatories. In terms of amenities, they only had Elemis hand lotion and soap.

British Airways A380 first class lavatory
British Airways A380 first class lavatory
British Airways A380 first class lavatory products

The other thing is that the lavatories weren’t in any way maintained during the flight, and toward the end of the flight looked like a mess. Heck, from the time of boarding, there was a roll of toilet paper just sitting on the counter, and that stayed there the entire flight.

Admittedly this is no different than US airlines, where flight attendants aren’t tasked with lavatory upkeep, so they become filthy. But it’s a contrast to flying with many top Asian carriers, where the lavatory is basically refreshed after each passenger.

British Airways A380 first class bed

After the meal, I asked to have my bed made, as I was hoping to get some rest. That was promptly taken care of. British Airways’ bedding is comfortable, and I find the sleeping surface to be cozy.

British Airways A380 first class bed
British Airways A380 first class bed
British Airways A380 first class bed

I fell asleep with just under five hours remaining to Chicago…

British Airways A380 map feature

…and I woke up with around 90 minutes remaining, after getting over three hours of glorious sleep.

British Airways A380 map feature

British Airways first class afternoon tea

About 75 minutes before landing, the pre-landing afternoon tea service began. You can find the menu below.

British Airways first class menu

I’m a big fan of afternoon tea on British carriers (I mean, what’s not to love about a plate of delicious carbs?), though I feel like British Airways has cut back on this a bit compared to back in the day? The afternoon tea was served on a two-tiered plate.

The savory options were on the lower plate, and consisted of roast beef on brioche, smoked salmon with cream cheese on pumpernickel, and cucumber mint on black tramezzini bread. The sweet options were on the upper plate, and consisted of some sort of fruit cake plus a scone. This was all served with clotted cream and jam.

British Airways first class afternoon tea

I ordered a cappuccino to accompany this, which oddly was served 15 minutes later, without any sort of an explanation. At that point I was done with the afternoon tea.

British Airways first class cappuccino

At the conclusion of this, I was also given a box of chocolates, which I believe is a special thing for the holidays.

British Airways first class chocolates

British Airways first class service

The crew on this flight was genuinely well intentioned and friendly, much better than I experienced on my last British Airways first class flight. There was one flight attendant exclusively taking care of my aisle, and she was super nice. Furthermore, the cabin manager greeted each passenger upon boarding and said goodbye prior to deplaning.

Here’s the thing, though — there wasn’t anything “first class” about the service. The service felt very assembly line-esque, rather than attentive and personalized. For example, as I mentioned above, the cappuccino I ordered with the afternoon tea only showed up 15 minutes later, after I finished the meal, without so much as an explanation.

Similarly, the lavatory was just dirty throughout the flight, which is a far cry from the level of attention to detail you see on top airlines. In fairness, I think that’s not a job of the crews on British Airways, but it does lead to a lapse in the passenger experience.

Historically British Airways just hasn’t invested in training its crews specially for first class service. I believe that’s something the airline is now starting to do, which is a positive change, as far as I’m concerned.

I just think it’s important to be realistic about what good service on British Airways looks like. It’s more in line with what you’d expect on an American flight in first class when you get good service, rather than anything like what you’d get on Singapore Airlines, or even Air France or Lufthansa.

British Airways A380 arrival in Chicago

At 1:15PM Chicago time, the first officer was on the PA to announce that we were flying over Flint, and would be landing in around 40 minutes. It wasn’t a particularly nice day in Chicago, and there was quite some wind on approach.

Approaching Chicago O’Hare

We ended up touching down at Chicago O’Hare at 2PM. From there we had a roughly 10-minute taxi to our arrival gate at Terminal 5, where we pulled in next to an Aeromexico Boeing 737 MAX.

Arriving at gate Chicago O’Hare

By the way, during the taxi in, the cabin manager announced that all phones would have to be turned off before entering the immigration hall. As I wrote about last year, that’s not actually a rule anymore, so I’m curious if he was reading off the script (and British Airways just has the wrong information), or if that’s something he was adding to the announcement?

Bottom line

I had a pleasant flight in British Airways’ A380 first class. On the plus side, the seats were comfortable, the amenities were good, the food and drinks were tasty, the service was well intentioned, and I appreciated the free Wi-Fi.

That being said, this still doesn’t compete with the top first class products out there. The entertainment screen was outdated and very wobbly, the service wasn’t very polished, and the bathrooms weren’t clean.

While I’d love to see British Airways invest a bit more in its first class product, ultimately the carrier’s product is good enough, given the market dominance at Heathrow. If you can get a good deal on British Airways first class (either with points or cash), it could be a good option across the Atlantic.

What’s your take on British Airways A380 first class?

Conversations (56)
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  1. KK13 Diamond

    I don't get it! What's this obsession with caviar??

  2. Writing person Guest

    Just arrived back from Europe to OHare last week. Signs in customs said cellphones must be turned off.

  3. Richard Guest

    I would have expected vintage rose' Champagne in first class...

    1. Firsttotheleft Guest

      The LPGS is a couple hundred bucks a bottle retail. Certainly good enough. The Johnny Walker Blue is as well.

  4. Firsttotheleft Guest

    The point is BA First is probably the easiest / cheapest / most available award first seats to a premium destination. (Sorry I’m not risking going to an Arab or communist country without international rules of law.)
    There are only 8 seats in the cabin (ok 14 on the handful of a380s), so don’t compare it to a 50 seat biz cabin. Bathrooms have far less use and FA to passenger ratio is 1/4...

    The point is BA First is probably the easiest / cheapest / most available award first seats to a premium destination. (Sorry I’m not risking going to an Arab or communist country without international rules of law.)
    There are only 8 seats in the cabin (ok 14 on the handful of a380s), so don’t compare it to a 50 seat biz cabin. Bathrooms have far less use and FA to passenger ratio is 1/4 at least. Food and booze is premium and unending. Yes service can be uneven, but when it’s good it’s amazing. There are some amazing, dedicated employees at BA.
    Then you have the lounges (peasant screens as I call them). Game changers. If you’ve had a 5 hour layover in the concord room at LHR you know what I mean.
    Comparing BA first to a carrier that has little to no award availability is pointless. If you’re paying full commercial fare ($40,000 for two round trip) then of course fly AF Premier.

  5. robertw Guest

    There is something I dont understand. When I try see space LHR-MIA in business class on AA.com there are fairly stiff fuel surcharges for business class flights. I cant remember the last time I saw available space in First. Were your taxes and fees less becuase you started in Jeddah and not London? Wondering any suggestions to mitigate the high fuel surcharges and the MIA-LHR route for BA.

  6. Webby Guest

    When I was reading the menu I thought to myself I really wish Ben would order something other than the fish for a change and to my surprise you did! Thanks!

  7. Bkrk757 Guest

    The Turbot is one of the best fish courses I've had on an airplane!

  8. Trang Guest

    We will never use British airway again. 10 years ago we were stranded at Heathrow 12 hours after being rerouted from LA to Newfoundland (overnight) missed flight to Dublin due to airline. Mom and 2 daughters ages 7&9) were stranded and they didn’t off anything.
    Today my 19 year old is stranded 24 hours with no clothes, toiletry bag because the first flight missed the connection by 1 hour delay! BA knew it’s tight...

    We will never use British airway again. 10 years ago we were stranded at Heathrow 12 hours after being rerouted from LA to Newfoundland (overnight) missed flight to Dublin due to airline. Mom and 2 daughters ages 7&9) were stranded and they didn’t off anything.
    Today my 19 year old is stranded 24 hours with no clothes, toiletry bag because the first flight missed the connection by 1 hour delay! BA knew it’s tight but they checked bags anyway. Many people were stranded in the middle of winter in London with their clithes and coat in checked bags. She’s in line hoping to get a hotel voucher. Never again on British air.

  9. Dominic Kivni Guest

    "Invest a bit more in its first class product" only makes sense if BA can generate more profit, and what we know about all the blogger-approved F products is that they only make sense to sell on a limited route network or with very few seats, which is completely different than BA's strategy of a relatively more accessible F price point that is not as luxurious and is available across much of its network.

  10. Hamish Mitchell Guest

    I have recently booked with BA flying First Class from LHR to JNB on 21/1 returning 12/2. I've never flow this Class so am more than looking forward to the experience. Reading your review however gives me some concerns

  11. London Guest

    Ben I don't really understand what you write 'so British Airways doesn’t really have to compete with product, at least for those traveling to or from London.' You are absolutely right that they don't have to compete with any UK carrier, but they do have to complete with the likes of Emirates and Cathay Pacific and other world class airlines who fly out of Heathrow.

  12. Ricky Guest

    How daring of you Ben to mix it up this time by ordering the pasta dish instead of the usual fish. That turkey dish description looked ravishing BTW.

  13. ZLI Guest

    No surprise that the airlines based in countries that support hatred and genoc*de against Palestinians and love Israel and Epstein have terrible hospitality (USA, Canada, UK, Australia).

  14. Mick Guest

    Always fun to see the BA a380 at ord. I believe it’s the one and only A380 that’s ever been of regular service there.

    Flew out of SYD to AKL yday and saw an asiana, emirates, two sq and two Qantas a380s. Still love seeing these giant birds.

    Great review and I can’t imagine why you’d ever want to fly sq or even qr biz over this far more spacious seat.

    1. Gregg Guest

      Ummm, maybe for the way better food and service on QR???

    2. Ella Guest

      Last year I flew Qsuites and BA F back to back DOH-LHR-SEA and I disagree. QR is very good, but not up to the service and food and champagne I’ve had on BA F. Only 4 flights QR and 2 F on BA, but that’s my experience.

  15. Nate Dyer Guest

    75 mins without a top-up of your drink is a bit wild.

    I wish - for the sake of reviewing - that you'd order more of the red meat dishes on flights. I understand you do not eat pork, which is totally fair, but sometimes it would be good to see how the steak and lamb options pan out on board, for lack of a better term.

    1. UncleRonnie Guest

      Don’t you guys use the call bell when you want a top-up in F?

  16. DiogenesTheCynic Member

    One thing not noted in the review is that I like that there are customized festive/Christmas elements to the menu -- the Christmas beer, the yule log, the chestnut turkey, etc. Seems like a nice touch I haven't seen in other products.

  17. Super Diamond

    If flying out of LHR and using points for First Class, would you rather:
    1. Fly direct with BA
    2. Take one stop with Lufthansa, be picked up in a Porsche and driven to the lounge, get to relax in a much better First lounge, then potentially driven to your next flight

    1. Firsttotheleft Guest

      Flying first on Lufthansa using points is a highly unlikely scenario for almost everyone. Especially if booking more than two weeks out.
      It’s fairly easy to do on BA. Have reached the point where we only fly BA in first now.

  18. grichard Guest

    Serious question: Why does BA have so many of these seats? I was trying to think this through, and I can imagine 4 types of people flying in this F:

    1) Nonrevs, op-ups, very-high-tier elite upgrades
    2) "Purchases" with FF miles
    3) Business flyers with agreements to fly in the highest class of service
    4) Individual discretionary purchases

    #1 has almost no direct financial benefit to the airline, and the financial benefit...

    Serious question: Why does BA have so many of these seats? I was trying to think this through, and I can imagine 4 types of people flying in this F:

    1) Nonrevs, op-ups, very-high-tier elite upgrades
    2) "Purchases" with FF miles
    3) Business flyers with agreements to fly in the highest class of service
    4) Individual discretionary purchases

    #1 has almost no direct financial benefit to the airline, and the financial benefit from #2 must be pretty modest. I imagine airlines' decision to have this cabin comes down more to #3 and #4.

    Is it just that there are enough people flying F on some company's nickel to justify this? Or do more people see enough incremental value over J to buy F than I would guess?

    Or is there another explanation I haven't thought of?

    1. JackG Guest

      There's quite a few people who don't care as much about the hard/soft product as we do. My relative pays for her flights and just flew J on Cathay, and went to rather contract lounge rather then the Pier etc.

    2. Throwawayname Guest

      Op-ups allowing them to oversell the other cabins, the odd absurdly high last minute fare, and being able to tempt EU flyers away from their home airlines by selling 'first for the price of business' (I suspect that works quite well with those who have to connect anyway).

    3. JT Guest

      My wife and I are London based. Both Gold card holders. And I think you have covered the 4 there - we and our friends always fit into one of those categories, and cover them all. Sometimes upgraded, sometimes a deal with BA/agent to upgrade J at booking, sometime Avios, and sometimes the price difference just makes sense. It is rarely companies buying F directly, and it isn't seen as a big 'caviar and chauffeur...

      My wife and I are London based. Both Gold card holders. And I think you have covered the 4 there - we and our friends always fit into one of those categories, and cover them all. Sometimes upgraded, sometimes a deal with BA/agent to upgrade J at booking, sometime Avios, and sometimes the price difference just makes sense. It is rarely companies buying F directly, and it isn't seen as a big 'caviar and chauffeur deal'. It's just 'nice if you get it, and sometimes I really need a better night's sleep'.

      When I look at the prices of F on other carriers, it's always way higher priced and not a price I would justify over J. But with BA, we probably get F over J 30% of the time, and appreciate it. I much prefer that BA continue this strategy, assuming it is profitable for them.

  19. Andy Guest

    Ben, I love your “worlds best” articles and this review made me wonder if you could do a more specific angle of “best way to cross the Atlantic” etc (and how to book). Would be curious where BA F would rank vs something like SQ J to Frankfurt in your eyes.

  20. jason Guest

    FYI, the afternoon tea items were the exact same as my BA Biz flight recently

    1. Ella Guest

      I had nicer last August. Wish I could post my pic.

    2. PH Guest

      The cakes don’t match the menu so maybe something wasn’t loaded correctly

  21. Noel Guest

    Honestly, BA first is embarrassing. Compare it to any other first class and it seems more like business. Flying them from Singapore to Heathrow. 3 hours out from London, I woke up and asked for a coffee only to be told breakfast starts in an hour and that I should wait.... Laughable!. ANA, Emirates and Thai just crap all over them.

    1. JT Guest

      That's bizarre. Some of their staff can be quite junior, but I've never had anything like that with BA crew. An obvious answer is 'maybe check that answer with you Cabin Service Director'. I'm sure he/she would be mortified.

    2. Ben Guest

      Except the seat is larger and the F&B better

      Stop repeating the old line lucky used 10 years ago, it wasn't accurate then,

      One thing that Lucky probably doesn't take into account that BA's first class pricing is typically cheaper than alot of other airlines

    3. Barbarella Guest

      Arguably, this website makes money off referral links to various miles and points products. The goal is to be "aspirational" and make you want to collect more of those points and click more on those links and buy more of the associated products.

      The cash value of F at BA is of little relevance*: points redemption for BA's F are similarly priced as other carriers of the sane alliance. So if you want to be...

      Arguably, this website makes money off referral links to various miles and points products. The goal is to be "aspirational" and make you want to collect more of those points and click more on those links and buy more of the associated products.

      The cash value of F at BA is of little relevance*: points redemption for BA's F are similarly priced as other carriers of the sane alliance. So if you want to be very "aspirational" you'd only look at value for points and BA's F is not the best in that perspective.

    4. PH Guest

      It is more available with points than other on carriers though, no need to be an elite member to redeem and bigger first cabins operating more routes

    5. Firsttotheleft Guest

      And far more reward availability. I could never afford to fly first on another major carrier. In BA we fly first ALL. THE. TIME.
      I think the posters who say “the Etihad apartment with private shower and chef puts BA first to shame!” are morons and probably have never flown first, or tried to regularly find first award seats.

    6. Peter Guest

      Possible but completely the exception to the rule to refuse to serve a coffee anytime when asked (unless during turbulence)

  22. Lee Guest

    Your review is spot on. I regularly flight BA F and prefer the 777. The A380 is in need of an update. As BA has now achieved financial stability post-COVID, refurbishment *needs* to happen.

    1. Lee Guest

      PS - Former CEO Alex Cruz's intense focus on cost-cutting decimated BA's reputation for quality . . . and morale. When COVID downsizing hit, he focused on the seasoned (expensive) cabin crew. The result was a cabin crew without the historical service level.

  23. hbilbao Guest

    Ben, ground services aside, do you think this is better than LH's F?

  24. JT Guest

    Very fair review based on my last experience. I flew LAX-LHR, and on a long overnight flight the spaciousness of the cabin was fantastic. I slept for 10 hours - like nothing I have ever experienced on a flight. Zero aches or jetlag the next day. For this reason, I think it is better than even the latest 777 F because the space is so much greater.

    Where I disagree is that BA 'get away'...

    Very fair review based on my last experience. I flew LAX-LHR, and on a long overnight flight the spaciousness of the cabin was fantastic. I slept for 10 hours - like nothing I have ever experienced on a flight. Zero aches or jetlag the next day. For this reason, I think it is better than even the latest 777 F because the space is so much greater.

    Where I disagree is that BA 'get away' with a meh first because of their position at Heathrow. They are competing against the best F products in the world. You have Qantas, CX, SQ, QR, EK, ANA, JAL.... It's one of the most competitive first airports in the world. BUT, London is rich and I am amazed how many people with serious means now fly private transatlantic or even to Maldives etc. So BA isn't chasing the very rich. I think BA engineers their F product perfectly because it is a very affordable trade-up from J. Often the price difference is zero (a bit less flex), and it's rarely more than £1k per leg. Avios availability is good. I have regularly bought F on BA, but every time I have looked on LH, CX, EK etc the pricing is not justifiable for me. I don't need caviar - just space to have a really relaxing flight. BA delivers on that.

    1. DenB Diamond

      Yeah slots isn't the explanation. The explanation is that carriers based in Europe and the Americas have a different labour market and airlines have different labour costs. Emirates can afford to put a "shower attendant" on board and BA can't possibly get F toilets cleaned inflight. This is not an anti-union rant. My prescription is: strong unions, generous contracts and high staff morale, innovation by management (biggest item lacking IMO) to solve problems like inflight...

      Yeah slots isn't the explanation. The explanation is that carriers based in Europe and the Americas have a different labour market and airlines have different labour costs. Emirates can afford to put a "shower attendant" on board and BA can't possibly get F toilets cleaned inflight. This is not an anti-union rant. My prescription is: strong unions, generous contracts and high staff morale, innovation by management (biggest item lacking IMO) to solve problems like inflight lavatory cleaning, service flow issues. How does management know when the cappucino was served to Ben? Currently they don't, cuz nobody's watching over the person that took too long.

      I agree with your assessment that F cabin space (vs. J) can be a value on BA.

    2. JT Guest

      Fully agree that US and European carriers can't be compared to Asian due to staff cost, but I do think AF and LH put on a bit more of a polished show. But that comes at a much higher price, and a much smaller F footprint.

  25. D3kingg Guest

    I flew BA F on the a380 almost 4 yrs ago to date. While it’s not a bad product and definitely a step up from Club World it’s certainly not a good product.

    Another outstanding OMAAT review but I think the ratings system has been off. Too many 5 stars given out and unless you plan on flying AA Flagship F before it goes out of service and give it a dumpster fire score I can’t see justification for 4 stars here. A critic should be critical.

  26. Malcolm Guest

    I'll be flying BA First LHR-DFW in A380 in February. I got it for under UKP 2800 incl. onward flight to San Diego with AA, which will give me BA's Gold Status (oneworld Emerald) having already flown first to SEA in a 777. The only other time I flew A380 first was with Thai pre-pandemic, which I think is still the best first experience I've had. Too bad Thai dropped the A380.

    To be...

    I'll be flying BA First LHR-DFW in A380 in February. I got it for under UKP 2800 incl. onward flight to San Diego with AA, which will give me BA's Gold Status (oneworld Emerald) having already flown first to SEA in a 777. The only other time I flew A380 first was with Thai pre-pandemic, which I think is still the best first experience I've had. Too bad Thai dropped the A380.

    To be fair, because most of BA's revenues come from transatlantic traffic they're only competing with the American airlines and maybe Virgin, so they don't have to be all that good, and they offer lots of bargains. Under 3k to San Diego First is probably hard to beat. I still think BA First compares favourably to Lufthansa, although Swiss is a better product than both, so BA is definitely in the middling range.

  27. BoomerHumor Guest

    Remember, nobody thinks “it’s the world’s best business class” is funny or creative. Find something new to comment.

    Thanks for the review, Ben. Was looking forward to it.

    1. Ben Holz Guest

      That's because the moment Q-Suites and The Room were introduced, BA F lost that title. 3rd/4th best J is debatable, considering SQ's existence.

    2. Ezawa Tami Guest

      JX and BR J are also better than BA F.

    3. Steve from LA Member

      "Find something new to comment." The comment on the comment is itself neither funny nor creative. :)

  28. eric schmidt Guest

    I think the question is, is it worth any $ premium to pay over business class.

    1. Ben Holz Guest

      Well the interesting thing is that BA frequently prices F at a much lower premium to J than most airlines, which I would argue in the A380 is most definitely worth it, considering their dismal CW seats.

      On the 777s (which afaik all of the ones in a 4-class configuration feature the new Club Suites), it's a different story... I would only go for F if there was a minimal price difference and needed...

      Well the interesting thing is that BA frequently prices F at a much lower premium to J than most airlines, which I would argue in the A380 is most definitely worth it, considering their dismal CW seats.

      On the 777s (which afaik all of the ones in a 4-class configuration feature the new Club Suites), it's a different story... I would only go for F if there was a minimal price difference and needed the extra miles / status points or if F was priced lower than J (which surprisingly enough I have witnessed in the past). Otherwise it's pretty much the same across both cabins.

    2. Ben Holz Guest

      To add to this, F/J in the 788s and 789s falls under the same category as the A380s, with the caveat being that these planes are at least in the process of being retrofitted with the new Suites...

    3. Firsttotheleft Guest

      Not even close to the same. Food, booze, service, lavs, seats, privacy, amenities, storage, noise, LOUNGES. And 48 seats compared to 8 seats? Thanks I’ll sit in first.

  29. Aki Guest

    Ben, an unrelated question here:

    Do you have any idea whether Aman offers any type of discount to airline staff or travel agents?

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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Gregg Guest

Ummm, maybe for the way better food and service on QR???

3
DenB Diamond

Yeah slots isn't the explanation. The explanation is that carriers based in Europe and the Americas have a different labour market and airlines have different labour costs. Emirates can afford to put a "shower attendant" on board and BA can't possibly get F toilets cleaned inflight. This is not an anti-union rant. My prescription is: strong unions, generous contracts and high staff morale, innovation by management (biggest item lacking IMO) to solve problems like inflight lavatory cleaning, service flow issues. How does management know when the cappucino was served to Ben? Currently they don't, cuz nobody's watching over the person that took too long. I agree with your assessment that F cabin space (vs. J) can be a value on BA.

3
JT Guest

That's bizarre. Some of their staff can be quite junior, but I've never had anything like that with BA crew. An obvious answer is 'maybe check that answer with you Cabin Service Director'. I'm sure he/she would be mortified.

2
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